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Courage in the Quiet

Theater: ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Rhinebeck’s Performing Arts Center, flooded out of business by Irene, reopened last weekend with a sober and sometimes witty “Diary of Anne Frank.”
Most people know about the Frank family and four other Jews, who hid together in cramped and mean quarters in Amsterdam to evade the Gestapo for more than two years. They had to speak in whispers, creep barefooted and refrain from using the the toilet during the day so workers below them would not know the annex was inhabitated.

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Still Memorable, After All These Years

Theater: ‘Dial M for Murder’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

The trailer says, “a movie you will never forget.” That was back in 1954, and the trailer was right. But “Dial M for Murder” started life in 1952 as a play by Frederick Knott (who seems to have obsessed on vulnerable women — he wrote “Wait Until Dark” as well). It’s smart, tidy and very British: all good reasons to roll it out at the Ghent Playhouse for those who remember “Dial M” fondly, if not particularly well.

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Complications, Always

Theater: ‘The Glass Menagerie’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Because tropical storm Irene flooded The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, last month, heaping great losses in costumes, sets, equipment and sold seats on this community theater space, the Centerstage production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” was moved to Kaatsbaan in Tivoli, NY.
Kaatsbaan, of course, is for dance; not plays. The stage is wide and deep, leaving the four actors marooned in a sea of darkness.
Which worked quite well, as it turned out. For this is a dark play about four trapped people, impoverished, desperate and defeated at every turn.

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War of the Sexes, . . . And of the Worlds

Theater Scene

You have to ask, watching Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” why do Nick and Honey stick around for this blood bath? For that matter, why does the audience stick around?

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Courageous Theater

Theater: 'Mary Stuart'
compass@lakevillejournal.com

It’s a bold move for a community theater to take on “Mary Stuart,” a 19th-century play by Friedrich Schiller about two 16th-century queens, Elizabeth I and her murderous cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, battling for England’s throne.
It is a bold move because this is not a natural draw like recent productions of “Blithe Spirit,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Over the River and Through the Woods.” And it is a bold move most particularly because it must have two savvy and risk-willing actors in very demanding roles that got raves on Broadway. Recently.

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Recalling Old Sorrows, And Overcoming Them,

Theater: ‘Shakespeare for My Father’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Lynn Redgrave was barely noticed by Sir Michael Redgrave. The actor. Her father.
In “Shakespeare for My Father,” a play Lynn Redgrave wrote about growing up in this illustrious theater family, she searches her father’s journals after his death, particularly the ones from 1943, seeking notice of her birth.
No notice taken.

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An Ambitious Performance Strikes a Modern Chord

Theater: ‘An Inspector Calls’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

The Sherman Playhouse, a true community theater of limited means, is ambitious. “Salome,” “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Gaslight” and “Enchanted April” have been produced there in the last two years. But without Stephen Daldry, most famous for “Billy Elliott,” I doubt even they would have considered “An Inspector Calls.”
Arguably the most famous of J. B. Priestly’s plays, “Inspector” is a hoary melodrama that Daldry reimagined and stood on its head at London’s National Theatre in 1992.

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FDR and a Harried God

compass@lakevillejournal.com

“The Trial of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” at New Stage Performing Arts in Pittsfield makes interesting history, and interesting theater.
This is a new play by a new playwright, Edward Bernstein. Looking for something to do as a retired lawyer, Bernstein set to work researching the moves of American government leaders as Hitler went to work exterminating Jews in Europe. It is a disturbing tale of political interest and flagging humanity, and Bernstein places most of the action in Heaven as FDR (Fred Thaler) is brought to trial by Arthur Mandel (Jeffrey David Kent).

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Drawing People to the Arts With a Little Something For Everybody

Theater

It was the history of the world in about 66 minutes at PS 21, short for Performance Spaces for the 21st Century. This is a place for chamber music, plays, modern dance, variety shows, movies and, on this particular Saturday before a hurricane, puppets.

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Dwelling in Possibility

Theater: ‘The Belle of Amherst’

It’s a small world, Emily Dickinson’s — her father’s house in Amherst and the family’s garden.
“I never had to go anywhere else to find my Paradise,” she tells us. After all, she lives with possibility, poetry, imagination, so we believe her. “Paradise is within,” Dickinson says.
Still, she pains us. We are terribly afraid for her. Hope and disappointment are linked, always.

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